Injury Prevention

Post Incident Debriefing

What is a traumatic event or critical incident?

A traumatic event or critical incident is any situation faced by a team that causes them to experience strong emotional reactions that have the potential to interfere with their ability to function either at work or at home. Whether it’s the death of a fellow team member, serious injury to a colleague, or a threat to physical or psychological safety, employees may experience feelings of distress that could affect their productivity, focus and ability to perform work functions.

What can be done immediately following an event?

Initial Check In

The first few minutes or hours after a traumatic event represent a critical time during which the immediate Manager/delegate must check-in with their affected Team Member(s) on their physical and psychological wellbeing. If exposure to extreme trauma has occurred, the immediate Manager/delegate or another leader should make every reasonable effort to be physically present with the affected Team Members, as quickly as possible, to provide reassurance and support. Adjustments to coverage may be required to support affected Team Members. 

What about as a follow up to the event?

Post Incident Debrief

A Post Incident Debrief is a semi-structured, non-judgmental, supportive discussion with Team Members and stakeholders who have been affected by an incident. The primary purpose of a Post Incident Debrief is always to provide emotional and psychological support. In some cases, depending on the circumstances, it may be appropriate to hold two separate Post Incident Debriefs following an Incident: the first debrief focusing on emotional and psychological wellbeing, and the second debrief focusing on review of operational details and lessons learned.

Resources and Tools available to you:

Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)

The EFAP can provide one-on-one or group supports for employees affected by workplace violence and other incidents that are a source of trauma. A qualified practitioner can be made available by EFAP to provide psychological support during a Post Incident Debrief. This can be arranged with EFAP by managers/delegates and other leaders. OHSW should be informed that an incident has occurred and of the plan for an early non-operational debrief.

Occupational Health Safety and Wellness Services (OHSW)

OHSW Services can assist in supporting team members by way of navigation to other resources, or availability as another outlet for staff to access individual support.


[Webinar] Exaggerated Poor Debrief

Nova Scotia Health Authority, 2019.

[Webinar] Exaggerated Poor AIR (Ad hoc Incident Review)

Nova Scotia Health Authority, 2019.

[Webinar] Appropriate Debrief

Nova Scotia Health Authority, 2019.

[Webinar] Appropriate AIR (Ad hoc Incident Review)

Nova Scotia Health Authority, 2019.